In the summer of 2014, some theater enthusiasts signed a lease for a salon de fiestas, or party hall, on Avenida Independencia, installed upholstered chairs, theatrical lighting, and a stage, and created the San Miguel Playhouse. The theater opened its doors for its first production, Moonlight and Magnolias, in October 2014. Four years later, the playhouse had hosted more than twenty full theatrical productions, and an even greater number of concerts, readings, and benefits. In 2017, a supertitle system was installed, and a Spanish-language production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, with English supertitles, ushered in a new era of community-uniting bilingual theater. Highlights of the four years of the playhouse include the immensely popular Diez Minutos festival of ten-minute plays; comedies such as the rollicking farce The 39 Steps; musicals like Little Shop of Horrors; bracing dramas such as Red, and the acclaimed Latin American premiere of The Madres, a new play about the military dictatorship in Argentina. Incontrovertibly, in four years, the San Miguel Playhouse has become the city’s most significant cultural institution for high-quality theater.
Now, however, the institution is in peril. The lease has expired on the playhouse building, and the institution known as the San Miguel Playhouse must deal with the real possibility of eviction. A group of business professionals with a love of theater is launching a capital campaign to preserve this important cultural institution.
In tandem with the capital campaign, one of the biggest theatrical events in the history of San Miguel is in the final stage of rehearsals – a new musical called Bikers in Camelot, which will have its world premiere at the San Miguel Playhouse. With book, music, and lyrics by Wendy Bichel, who has been writing musicals since earning an MFA in musical theater four decades ago from New York University, an international cast, and New York-level production values, Bikers in Camelot is expected to sell out its San Miguel run and very likely be extended, before touring in other cities. Ken Albanese, who directed The 39 Steps, is directing the new musical, and Ken Bichel, who won a Drama Desk Award for his work on Broadway, is the orchestrator and conductor.
The world premiere performance, the first-ever presentation of a musical that may conceivably work its way to Goodspeed in Connecticut or even Broadway, will take place at a special 3pm Wedensday matinee on February 20. The fundraising committee for the San Miguel Playhouse has reserved the entire theater for the world premiere, and is offering VIP tickets for what it calls “a sparking reception to save the San Miguel Playhouse.” Tickets for the event are being offered to patrons at $50 US per ticket, and include an after-show private reception with the cast and creators of Bikers in Camelot, with sparkling wine and other refreshments. More importantly, the patrons who attend will not only be the first spectators to see the show, but will be helping to inaugurate the capital campaign to save a critically important arts institution.
For those who do not wish to purchase online, tickets may be purchased Mondays through Saturdays, between 11am and 5pm, at Boleto City, the ticket desk on the second floor of the Mercado Sano, Ancha de San Antonio 123, for either $50 US or 1000 pesos. The phone number of Boleto City is 152 6432.